I wonder if anybody back in the day had the gumption to hang him with the nickname “What A.”
As in, Ray “What A” Kroc.
You might have known the very rich guy as the man behind the billions of burgers served up by McDonald’s.
But as the movie Founder starring Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc shows very well, there was already a man with that name stamping out the little burgers before he came along with the idea of the big and grandiose Golden Arches. Two of them, in fact, brothers who automated the process so perfectly for their stand in San Bernadine, Calif., that they earned the attention of a Midwestern traveling salesman who drove all the way from Illinois with the idea of doing more than hooking them up with a better way to make more milk shakes.
Dick and Maurice McDonald take this Kroc guy out to dinner and share with him all their secrets. Soon enough, he convinces them that he’s the man to franchise their good idea in his part of the country. Sure, they say, as long as you sign on to follow our strict guidelines.
The rest, as directed by John Lee Hancock, is a story of American greed and frightening success on one side and callousness, innocence and crushing loss on the other.
You’re going to either love or hate Ray Kroc for his blind ambition and unending drive, and that’s the way Keaton plays the part. He talks out of both sides of his mouth, winning over franchise owners (and one’s smart, beautiful wife) while losing the trust of his original partners and his long-suffering and loyal spouse.
Watching on the flat screen with my dear wife Karen, I loathed everything about Kroc’s wily ways, as much as I like his pickle-slice-beauty of a burger to this day.
I wasn’t with the McDonald brothers with every “nay” they gave to his requests, either, but I sure didn’t think they deserved the whitewash in the ledgers and history books Ray delivered them, either, as Keaton seemingly became younger and more spry with each notch on his belt.
In the end, I wondered why anybody thought the world needed this big of a bite about the vain man behind our burgers, anyway.
Are you a McDonald’s, Burger King or another fast food burger fan, and why?